How far did the magi travel to see Jesus?

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The Bible tells us that the Magi’s began their travel from the East to Jerusalem:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1).

The Bible does not give us the exact location or country from where the Magi started their trip. For this reason, we cannot know for sure how far they traveled. However, there are some theories.

Where is the East?

The Jews considered the area of northern Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia as the “East.” There are several references in the Old Testament to the word “East.” The city of Haran was located in “the land of the people of the east” (Genesis 29:1, 4). The king of Moab brought Balaam “from Aram [that is, Syria], out of the mountains of the east” (Numbers 23:7; ch. 22:5). Also, the prophet Isaiah spoke of Cyrus, the Persian, as “the righteous man from the east” (Isaiah 41:2) and “a ravenous bird from the east” (Isaiah 46:11). So, the Magi might have began their travel from the “east” as being a vast area in Mesopotamia. This could range from 400-700 miles depending on the region.

Other theories

Some have thought that the wise men were from the same section of the “east country” as was Balaam, whose home has recently been identified with the Sajûr Valley between Aleppo and Carchemish, which is located near the Euphrates (Numbers 22:5). If this was true, then the magi trip to Bethlehem would have been around 400 miles long.

A trip of 400 miles would have taken them approximately two to three weeks on camels or around a month’s journey by foot. If we assume that they traveled by night to be able to be guided by the star, this would mean that their journey would have taken even an even longer time.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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